Cast iron skillets are valued for their high durability and excellent thermal retention properties. However, the downside is that cast iron is heavy compared to other materials such as steel, aluminum and copper. There is another way to go. Carbon steel has a lower density than cast iron, making it lighter. Yet carbon steel retains heat almost as well as cast iron.
But there is a catch. While many cast iron pans are factory pre-seasoned, carbon steel cookware often isn’t. Before using them, you must season them well. It may sound like a cinch to go the extra mile, but a good seasoning will not only protect your skillet against rust and caustics. It gives it a natural cooking surface with non-stick coating. The technique also works with cast iron, so it̵
Step 1: Gather what you need
Your bill of materials isn’t long for this project, but there are a few crucial items. Here’s what you need.
Step 2: Wash your skillet
With your gear ready to go, the next step is to wash your skillet. Use mild dish soap, warm water and the kitchen brush to scrub the pan thoroughly. Make sure to get both the inside and the outside of the pan.
The idea here is to remove any protective coating applied at the factory. Usually it is a thin layer of wax, but it can also be oil, depending on your pan. Rinse the pan free of soap and wipe it dry with kitchen paper.
Step 3: Heat the pan in the oven
Now preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Drop the skillet into the hot oven for 20 minutes. Then carefully remove the pan from the oven and place it on a heat-resistant surface. Use an oven mitt to grip the pan handle to avoid burns. Don’t forget to turn off your oven.
Step 4: Apply the wax
Take your cloth and turn one corner of it over the wax surface in the can. Two fingers should be enough to get some wax onto the cloth. Now apply a thin layer of wax to the pan. Cover both the inside and the outside of the pan. Use a dry area of the cloth to remove excess wax from the pan.
Step 5: heat over high heat
While you can certainly use your kitchen oven for this step, it can produce smoke and strange smells. I suggest using an outdoor grill instead. Light your grill to at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204.4 degrees Celsius). Place the skillet of wax upside down on the grids and close the grill lid. Heat the pan for 1 hour at this heat level, remove it and let it cool down.
Step 6: Repeat and repeat again
Repeat the whole process, oven, wash, heat over high heat, at least two more times. At the end, the color of your skillet should be noticeably different. My pan had a beautiful golden brown patina. A quick breakfast test run (with a few fried eggs) showed a smooth cooking space that was a snap to clean. The more you use your frying pan, the better the non-stick coating will become.